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PC The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited - The Review

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by hyp3rstrike, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. hyp3rstrike

    hyp3rstrike Community Owner
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    With the recent sale on Steam, I took the plunge into the world of Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. I'd previously played this game in the open beta back in 2014, but the game in the state it wasn't compelling enough for me to justify a purchase then.


    However, the common consensus now is that the game has evolved considerably since its original release, with developer Zenimax Online Software going back to correct the things that fans didn't like instead of releasing a whole new game with another purchase price tag.

    With that in mind, let's take a look at The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited.

    The Story
    You play the role of a hero referred to only as The Vestige, whose soul was sent to Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince who is the Lord of Coldharbour.

    The plan of the Daedric Prince of Brutality is simple: harvest as many souls as possible before launching his dark assault on Tamriel that would further shatter the barrier preventing the Daedra Invasion, and merge his realm of oblivion with our world.

    With the no true Dragonborn heir to re-light the dragonfires in the Imperial City, and her people divided, Tamriel seems all but doomed against the pending Daedric invasion.


    Gameplay
    Elder Scrolls Online steps back from the MMORPG norms, and offers players the ability to create characters of their own design with an open ended talents and traits system.

    There are four main classes to the game: Dragonknight, Templar, Sorcerer, and Nightblade - each of which can be customized in any which way you please. Want to make a heavily armoured rogue-like character, that uses staves and magic? You can do that. Or perhaps you'd like to make a magic wielding wizard that sword-and-boards their way through enemies, with a magical zap to finish them off? You can do that.

    Each of the game's preset character classes listed above differ only in the skills and combat abilities they offer you. Everything else is up to you, from what type of weapon you'd like to wield, the armor you wear, and what sort of character you'll be - a law abiding citizen, that sticks to the letter of the law like gospel, or perhaps a stealthy assassin that lurks in the undercities and murders innocent civilian NPCs.


    In short, it's your character and you play it how you want to. The possibilities are endless.

    The combat itself takes a page out of the book of Guild Wars 2, and adopts a more action-based MMO fighting system. Combat in ESO requires more skill than simply chaining together an optimal rotation of skills for maximized damage output - it requires reflexes to physically dodge and know when to move out of area of effect damage zones, when to switch up weapons for effect, and the use of special abilities and finishers while managing your character resources (such as mana and stamina) effectively.

    As for the rest of the game (or gameplay, rather), you've got yourself an Elder Scrolls world with huge landscapes and environments, full of a vast variety of enemies to fight, treasures to find, dungeons to explore both solo and in groups that scale in difficulty, world bosses to defeat, and an endless array of exceptionally well written and interesting questlines with full voice acting to match. I'll talk more about the voice acting later in the review.

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    The quests themselves range from simple fetch quests, to delving deep into a dungeon to save a sibling, or even stopping Daedric invasions by venturing into the planes of oblivion to close oblivion gates. Many of the quests feel authentic to the Elder Scrolls environment, which is the mission it is trying to accomplish.

    ESO's crafting system takes notes from Skyrim, with a mainstream approach that is easy to pickup allowing you to create your own items. You're not restricted to any one particular craft either - in fact, you can do them all should you want to on the single character. You've got choice between alchemy, enchanting, woodworking, clothing, blacksmithing, and provisioning.

    Each crafting profession has its own leveling system that allows you different perks, such as being able to find more raw materials easier, or getting more materials back when pulling apart an item you've looted or crafted.

    You can also create and upgrade your items from being your normal "whites", through to greens, blues, purples and oranges - basically, you can craft your own epics if you want to. There is obviously a cost to doing so, and a certain rarity to the items required, but that's pretty standard for this type of thing.

    My main character has a mix of medium armor, cloth, and steel pauldrons, with twin daggers enchanted with poison and disease for damage over time effects as well as the burst damage. In short, I'm lightly armored but I'll mess you up quickly.


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    The game also features a justice system. For any wrong doing you commit in the world, you can expected there will be consequences... if you're caught. Like I mentioned earlier, you can kill innocent NPCs as an assassin, steal things from NPCs and guards as a thief, or both - but always expect the law to catch up with you.

    For any wrong doing, you'll increase your bounty which can be paid off directly to the guards if it is a minor amount - however for larger offenses like murder, guards will attempt to kill you on sight until you clear the bounty. You can choose to wait in real time before entering a city again, or have one of the underground shady characters pay it off for you (with your gold, of course).


    Other miscellaneous gameplay components include random world events where Molag Bal sends his forces through world anchor gates, and groups of players come from all directions to repel the invasion, with some phat loot rewards at the end of it.
     
  2. hyp3rstrike

    hyp3rstrike Community Owner
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    The Visuals
    One of the things that developers need to be wary of when working with a licensed product is to not make any drastic changes to the general aesthetic of the title or brand you're creating for. Go too far, and you'll wind up with a product that may anger fans in that the visual feel is in no way tied to the original franchise.

    Thankfully, Elder Scrolls Online doesn't deviate too much in this regard. The visual aesthetic and character design is more in-line with Oblivion, with its fantasy cartoonish appeal but serious undertones, versus Skyrim's serious... well, everything. Unlike the screenshots of the game, which give a very cartoonish impression of the game, ESO thankfully can be taken seriously as an Elder Scrolls title - which is good.

    The game itself features some really good visual effects, such as screen space ambient occlusion and horizon based ambient occulusion, godray/sunray effects, and a slew a well designed shaders. Textures come in low resolution for low distance details, and high resolution when you're up close and personal. This can sometimes be delayed in switching from lowres to highres textures, where you'll notice the texture "pop in" when you're standing up close. It's annoying, but not the end of the world.

    The Sound
    As I mentioned before, ESO features fully voiced quests and dialog. Like most Bethesda games, ESO features the voice talents of some of Hollywood's most established actors like Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy, John Cleese, Peter Stormare, Malcom McDowell, and Michael Gambon.



    Each line of dialog is beautifully recorded to provide loads of entertainment through the use of witty dialog, humor, and sets the tone for every step you take in the game.

    The musical score is also another key part of the game, as it sets the pace in which you play. As you traverse across the open landscape of Tamriel, be it in the jungles of Valenwood or a the heart of Coldharbour, the score matches to a tee. You could be sneaking around with a low and dark ambient theme playing in the background, until you're detected or enter combat, and then you'll hear the ambiance become more suspenseful with every strike you make until your victory... or your death.



    The Conclusion
    Elder Scrolls Online has come along way from the game it was at its original launch. It mixes a blend of Oblivion, Skryim, and elements of other recently released MMORPGs and throws it all into the mix to create something that is worth the time to play and enjoy.

    With ESO no longer maintaining a required subscription beyond the initial purchase cost, it is a game that players can pick up their adventures and put down at will, without guilt. It can be purchased from its official website, Steam, or any other retailer that stocks it.
     

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